REV. DR. CHARES KOEN is a life-long resident of Illinois, born August 7, 1945 in Cairo.  He and his wife, Clydia have been married 50 years and are the parents to 4 adult children and 10 grandchildren. 

Rev. Koen has spent most of his life as an activist for civil and human rights having been baptized into the movement at the young age of 16.  During the summer of 1962 he courageously organized and led other youth with the help of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to stand against racial segregation and injustices that existed in Cairo.  This action was the beginning of a life of commitment to bring hope and a better quality of life to those who were suffering from poverty and discrimination brought on by long-standing practices of racial and class oppression.

For the next 52 years, Rev. Koen lived his life organizing a broad movement with a spiritual philosophy focused on developing programs that would serve the whole person –programs that had a mission as that stated in the Gospel of John 25th Chapter, verses 35-36.  He would use his leadership and organizing skills to work with others through a number of organizations to accomplish the mission as established by that in the 25th Chapter of Matthew.  These organizations included:

 The Cairo Nonviolent Freedom Committee-9-10-62 to 9-12-68-Youth Leader

National United Front-03-10-1969-President

Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Operation Bread Basket-03-04-70

Southern Christian Leadership Conference-Vice President (Midwest Region)-04-05-71

National Association of Neighborhoods-04-12-80-President

Rural America-Executive Board Member-09-10-1982

One Church-One Child-05-1980


 McKenree University-09-1963 to 06-1966

Northeastern Illinois University-09-1980 to 06-1982(BS Degree)

Southern Illinois University-09-1982 to 06-1984(MS Degree)

Union Graduate School of Experimental Education-09-1984 to 09-1988(PhD of Philosophy)


 Appointed by President Jimmy Carter to Rural America Board

Run for Governor of Illinois

Down State Coordinator for Illinois Governor Dan Walker's campaign for Governor

Illinois State Coordinator of Rainbow Push

Elected Alderman-Cairo, Illinois-Vice Chairman Alexander County Democratic Party Committeemen

Ran for Regional Supt. of Schools in the Southern Most Counties in Illinois

Field Coordinator for President William Clinton Campaign for President


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November 23, 2017

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